“Responding to call of the mother Earth”
The South Asian region of the continent is marked by diverse climatic zones and boasts of an extremely varied ecosystem of flora and fauna. However, over the years, the region is experiencing an array of climatic changes. The pressure of ever-increasing human population together with changing hydrology and land resources have had a distinct impact on production of food grains and resilience of ecosystem to maintain equilibrium. Rapid urbanisation and indiscriminate deforestation for selfish interests is constantly depleting our forests, leading to biodiversity losses and desertification. Over dependence on resources has contributed to monumental increase in air and water pollution which in turn has adverse effects not only on humans but also impacts marine and plant life equally. There is steady increase in depletion of energy resources, frequency of natural disasters, pestilence and diseases, food security risks, hazardous wastes, water scarcity- the list can simply go on ceaselessly. The planet is under extreme duress with very little left for future generations if immediate amends are not made. This understanding now resonates world-over with iteration of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) especially around zero hunger (SDG 2), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), affordable and clean energy (SDG 7), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), responsible production and consumption (SDG 12), climate action (SDG 13), life below land (SDG 14) and life on land (SDG15).
Following these, further impetus to the cause was added in November 2017, when UN Environment launched the ‘Faith for Earth’ Initiative which highlighted the relevance of
faith-based organisations as sustainable institutions and partners to consult on dealing with conservation and management of natural resources. This has also been reflected in the Encyclical ‘Laudato Si’ which further brought to light the complex link between the present ecological crisis and emphasis on an urgent paradigm shift.
ECO-JESUIT INDIA/SOUTH ASIA
Responding to the need of a strong and consistent initiative towards healing the planet and strengthened by the commitment of innumerable people already engaged in environmental protection, individual Jesuits and Provinces as a whole in South Asia have joined hands to form the Jesuit Ecological Network (EcoJesuits) towards realisation of this eco-mission.
‘Our Mother Earth, Our Common Home’
‘Promoting collective responsibility to care, nurture and sustain the Earth, especially those at the margins, manifested in lifestyle and action’
1.Increase in ownership and action by local communities towards preservation and management of biodiversity, especially of endangered species, nutritional and medicinal plants
2. Increase in responsibility sharing among local communities towards management of natural resources ensuring equitable opportunity for sustainable livelihoods
3. Reduction in impact of droughts and floods within local communities
4. Propagation of agricultural diversity, organic farming practices, and food security among small and marginal farmers
5. Boost in use of renewable energy by local institutions and communities
6. Increase in number of students and other stakeholders taking eco-actions
7. Promotion of respect for all creation, eco sensitive lifestyles and eco-action
8. Positioning and acquisition of equitable share in benefits by groups affected due to climate change
9. Identification, acknowledgement and research by stakeholders on significant ecological crises affecting vulnerable groups
10. Participation in formulation and implementation of environment favourable policies at state and national level
Partners spread across 23 Indian states; Nepal and Sri Lanka
Small and marginal farmers reached
Schools and colleges covered
Farmer groups initiated
School children members
Awareness programmes/trainings with women/ farmers/ local community conducted
A FEW NOTABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Entomology Research Centre
Loyola College Chennai – developed a number of products by isolating several pesticidal molecules from plant extracts, plant oils, microbes and seed weeds. It has also been able to preserve 10 endangered medicinal plants and reintroduced them in the forests. It received an honour from Tamil Nadu Government for this initiative.
- Development of Biopesticide ‘Ponneem’ (for use on plants) from Neem and
- Development of Biopesticide ‘Mos Repel’ (mosquito repellant) from plant-
based volatile oils
Conservation of endangered species
Andhra Loyola College worked on in-situ (on-site/ within natural habitat) & ex- situ (off-site/ outside natural habitat in gardens, nurseries, etc.) conservation of rare and endangered species, development of Herbarium, Biological park & Botanical garden
Against mining & deforestation
Goa province participation in and organization of numerous campaigns against mining & deforestation.
Relief and Response work in Nepal Region
Nepal Province was engaged in extensive relief & response work in response to Nepal earthquake.
Solar based food processing
Being promoted for development of livelihoods for poor families.
Being promoted by Jesuits in Mumbai, Patna, Kerala & other Provinces.
Promoting solar lighting, water heaters, solar cookers, solar water pumps and solar driers in many Jesuit and Non-Jesuit Institutions.